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The project objectives are to design, fabricate, package, and integrate into a driver module for the first time, the Pilot Photonics comb source technology. A broad range of tests are considered within the scope of the project, including space environment testing, chip-level and module-level characterisation, and application level testing for communication applications, and swept-mode sensing applications.
Key Challenges are:
At its simplest, a single optical comb source can be used to replace an array of single mode lasers yielding cost, size, weight and power benefits. Pilot’s comb source is based on photonic integration so a tiny semiconductor chip produces the optical comb. This results in the world’s smallest and lowest cost optical comb source. In addition, there are application specific benefits of products based on the PICSAL comb technology. For example, in inter-satellite communication, the benefit is multiple data carrying wavelengths from a single chip and therefore higher data throughput. For atomic clocks the benefit is that Pilot’s technology can create a dual coherent mode optical signal which is ideal for coherent population trapping. Finally, Pilot’s comb source offers the ability to tune the wavelength spacing with very high accuracy and speed enabling a unique swept mode operation that is beneficial for gas, and fiber sensing,
Through PICSAL we have developed an evaluation unit that customers can use to experience these benefits for themselves (Figure 1).
The product that is delivered through PICSAL is a photonic integrated comb source evaluation module. The features are as follows:
Application specific feature examples:
The high-level system is a laser driver module which is software controllable.
Its inputs are:
Its output is:
Internally, it consists of a packaged optical comb source PIC mounted on a PCB which drives the laser using four independent current controllers, and a single temperature controller.
The main items to be developed are:
Three simple phases are envisaged in the project:
Project successfully completed.